(By Adebayo Oladejo)
This year’s annual national conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) might have come and gone but memories of the notable event will linger for long in the minds of community pharmacists across the nation. One person in particular has every reason not to forget about the conference so soon. He is the national chairman of ACPN, Alh. (Pharm) Ismail Olufemi Adebayo.
Speaking with Pharmanews in his hotel room shortly after the one-week-long event, Alh. Adebayo was full of appreciation to God for making the conference, the second since he became national chairman, one of the best in the history of the association. He also disclosed some of the programmes his administration has in store for the association in the next one year before the end of his tenure. Excerpts:
How would you assess the just concluded 33rdannual national conference of your association?
That’s an interesting question, but I would have preferred somebody outside the executive team to answer it. Personally, I have been asking stakeholders, companies, members of ACPN and others that came for the event for their comments about the conference. The reports have been quite encouraging.
I particularly want to appreciate my members because, last year, our capitation was increased and majority of them willingly complied, agreeing with us that the increment was justified because the cost of living had actually increased. Consequently, I promised them that they would have value for their money. This is why we decided to raise the standard of the conference arrangement, from feeding to conference materials and other logistical considerations. As a result, people have scored us not less than 80 per cent in all aspects of the organisation.
It is my joy that I was able to organise a good conference and our people are really happy. I wish to appreciate the Governor of Kwara State, Ahmed Abdulfatah, for creating an enabling environment for us to hold our conference and also the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Hon Abdul Kayode Issa, who represented the governor and his entourage.
What informed the theme, evolving best practices in community pharmacy”?
As you know, the ACPN is a technical arm of the PSN; while the PSN is also a member of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). The norm is that whatever we are going to come up with as a theme in our annual conferences must be derived from the last theme of the PSN conference, while the PSN on its own part takes its themes from FIP. The aim is to ensure that whatever information that is disseminated at the top gets to the last cadre. This is why we had that theme for our conference this year.
In the last two years as ACP national chairman, what would you say have been your greatest achievements?
I want to first and foremost appreciate the support of the executive members, NEC members and the entire members of ACPN for the trust they had in me and making me their leader. One of our major achievements is our effort towards institutionalising the professional indemnity insurance scheme – that is, the insurance for professional malpractices that might occur. We took it up as group insurance and I am happy that we were able to surpass the minimum number required for us to pay the minimum required amount. This is why I am appreciating my members because if not for the trust they had in me, they wouldn’t have subscribe to it.
Secondly, we have been able to positively affect our members through various training and retraining programmes organised by different bodies to empower members and update their knowledge base. Whenever we call on our members for these trainings, the response is always positive and there are testimonies that it has improved their businesses.
Also, we have been interacting with government agencies like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Our usual complaint before now was that we had been short-changed. Fortunately, the NHIS now has a new executive secretary and we have made a courtesy call on him and informed him about the situation of our members. He has promised that something will be done in that direction.
Additionally, there are several ways we have been partnering with government agencies and the federal ministry of health. For example, there is the National Drug Distribution Guidelines which was launched last year and there is an implementation committee which has just been formed. We have been recognised as part of that committee. Also, at NHIS, there is a steering committee which looks holistically into the operation of NHIS, and we have been nominated and recognised as part of that committee as well. So we have been contributing our quotas in different agencies of the government; and we hope that, very soon, all these efforts will reflect on the practice of our members.
We have also done so much on the publicity and advertisement of our neon sign, which is our emblem in the media. We have called several press briefings on this and we are happy that it is paying off.
What should your members expect in the next one year before your tenure is over?
I want my members to continue to pray for me because the major thing I had in mind while contesting for this post was the issue of empowering my members; and even after leaving office, I want to leave a good legacy behind. I am praying to God that I will have something substantial to point at after leaving the office in the next one year.
I want my members to be more committed. The turnout at our conferences has not been encouraging enough, considering the population of community pharmacists that we have nationwide. I am imploring them to inculcate the habit of attending conferences because, once they pay their capitation, attendance is free. Even though the economy is not really good, they should try and identify with their profession. I therefore pray that all my efforts to take this association to the next level will not be in vain.
I will also implore the government to encourage professionals, especially pharmacists, because as food is important, so also are drugs. Pharmacists are important, and by virtue of that, when there is a special programme like loan for people in agriculture, there should be same for us in Pharmacy and the healthcare sector in general because there is always that support in other countries of the world.
I am calling on government to establish a low-scheme fund for pharmacists, with a single digit interest rate. This will make drugs more accessible and affordable to the common man on the street.